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Does Gender Affect Outcome of Surgery in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis?

Helenius, Ilkka MD, PhD*†; Remes, Ville MD, PhD*‡; Yrjönen, Timo MD, PhD*; Ylikoski, Mauno MD, PhD*; Schlenzka, Dietrich MD, PhD*; Helenius, Miia DDS, BM*; Poussa, Mikko MD, PhD*

doi: 10.1097/
Health Services Research

Study Design. A retrospective follow-up study comparing 2 matched groups.

Objective. To compare long-term results of operative treatment of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) between males and females matched for age, curve magnitude and type, and the instrumentation used.

Summary of Background Data. It has been suggested that in AIS, the spine is more rigid in males than in females, because brace treatment fails to halt progression of the curves in males. However, there are no studies comparing the results of surgical treatment of AIS between males and females.

Methods. Thirty male and female pairs were matched for age (±1 year), major curve magnitude (±5°), curve type according to the King classification, and the instrumentation used (Harrington in 11 pairs, Cotrel-Dubousset in 9 pairs, and Universal Spine System in 10 pairs). The mean age at the time of operation was 16.2 ± 2.6 years for the males and 15.5 ± 2.3 years for the females. The mean follow-up times were 14.3 years (range 6.7–23.0 years) and 14.1 year (range 6.4–23.7 years), respectively. Radiographs were obtained presurgery and after surgery, at the 2-year follow-up assessment, and at the final follow-up visit. In addition, a physical examination was performed, and the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) questionnaire was completed. Spine mobility and nondynamometric trunk strength were measured at the final follow-up visit.

Results. Before surgery, the mean Cobb angle of the thoracic curve was 55° (range 42–83°) in the males and 56° (range 43–80°) in the females. In bending radiographs, the major curve reduced significantly more in females than in males (P = 0.027). The mean angles of the thoracic and lumbar curves were similar at all follow-up visits. The final correction of the thoracic curves was 30% (range −19–65%) in the males and 33% (range −7–71%) in the females (not significant). No significant difference was observed in thoracic kyphosis or lumbar lordosis between the study groups at the final follow-up. The totalSRS questionnaire score averaged 96 (range 66–113) inthe males and 95 (range 75–108) in the females. None of the males and 2 of the females reported back pain often or very often in the questionnaire. Nondynamometric trunk strength measurements corresponded with reference values, on average, and were similar in both groups. Abnormal trunk side bending tended to be more common in the males than in the females (43% vs. 23%, P = 0.10, not significant).

Conclusions. Curves in males appear to be more rigid than in females with AIS. However, posterior surgery for AIS provides similar short and long-term results in males and females.

An analysis of the operative treatment of patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis matched for age, curve magnitude and type, and instrumentation used revealed no difference in the short or long-term radiologic or functional outcome between genders.

From the *ORTON Orthopaedic Hospital, Invalid Foundation, Helsinki, Finland, the †Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland and the ‡Surgical Hospital, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.

Supported by the Instrumentarium Scientific Foundation, Finnish Orthopaedic and Traumatology Foundation, Päivikki and Sakari Sohlberg Foundation, Emil Aaltonen Foundation, The Foundation for Pediatric Research, Paulo Foundation, and Sivia Kosti Foundation.

Acknowledgment date: September 25, 2003. First revision date: February 9, 2004. Acceptance date: April 24, 2004.

The legal regulatory status of the device(s)/drug(s) that is/are the subject of this manuscript is not applicable in my country.

Foundation funds were received in support of this work. No benefits in any form have been or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this manuscript.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Ilkka Helenius, MD, Arhipanpolku 8 b A, FIN-00420 Helsinki, Finland; E-mail:

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.